Reading aloud to students is probably the most important activity to instill love of literature and also increase listening, comprehension and vocabulary skills. It is important to read aloud every day to all ages of students. Here are some guidelines to make your read aloud time engaging and amazing for yourself and your students.
1. Choose books you love. Your enthusiasm for a book will spread to the students. I love reading books I have just discovered and also favorite classics from my childhood. Some of my favorite books were the Little House Series. I tell them how I would cuddle under my quilt and read until my parents made me go to bed. Often my favorite books are also some of my students’ favorite books. Click here for a list of some of my favorite read aloud books.
2. Choose high interest books that will capture the attention of the students. If a book is not working, it is okay to stop reading it and get another book. You can tell students are loving a picture book when they want you to read it again and again, or a chapter book when they don’t want you to stop reading. High interest books are the greatest advertisement for reading. It teaches children to associate reading with pleasure.
3. Read from a variety of genres and expose students to different types of literature. I like to read aloud a different literature genre each month and teach students the characteristics of the genre. Here are the nine literature genres we did: fairy tales, folktales, mysteries, classics, historical fiction, poetry, realistic fiction, fantasies, science fiction. Reading aloud from a variety of informative text should be sprinkled in often.
4. Talk about what you are reading. Children listen at a higher reading level than they can read independently. This is a good way to teach critical comprehension skills. It is important to allow time for class discussion during or after a read aloud. It is also important to share your own connections, opinions, inferences and predictions about the story.
5. Read with expression. It is essential to use a lot of emotion and voice changes when reading a book. Don’t be afraid to be dramatic! One day a substitute teacher in my fifth grade class read from the chapter book I had been reading to the students. When I returned to class the next day, my students were upset and asked me to reread the chapter, because the substitute did not read it the right way. This showed me how much students become accustomed to your voice and your read aloud style. In my class, read aloud time is a bonding experience.